S’More Safety

Hi rafbyrthnk
Folks! A new development on the safety front to  ponder o’er the weekend! – L
Dear Free-Range Kids: A few weeks ago, my daughter’s girl scout troop was invited to a sing-a-long with other troops, and they would have s’mores. There was a bubble on the form telling parents not to worry… the s’mores will be campfire-free and made with graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow fluff. Really?!?! She’s in third grade. I remember in first grade making sit-upons (and roasting my own marshmallow), second grade the rolled newspaper and wax fire starters (and roasting my own marshmallow) and third grade was the big year you got to be the pyromaniac… I mean fire-starter. — Was’more Fun Back Then

Pass the Fluff!

85 Responses to S’More Safety

  1. Andrea November 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Wow…I have those memories too. I was in Girl Scouts through junior high many moons ago…the idea of s’mores with no campfire involvement makes me very sad.

  2. Backroadsem November 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    With all due respect to marshmallow fluff (which certainly has its place in the junk food world) s’mores are supposed to be made with ROASTED MARSHMALLOWS.

  3. Kimberly November 9, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    The only way S’mores should be “fire Free” is the kids did what our robotics group did – build the solar oven used to cook them.

    One of the “big kid” things our students look forward to is being a 4th grader and going to camp “Write-Along”. It is in February, and the kids spend the day outside doing various camp activities. One of the teachers brings her fire pit and the kids make s’mores – often for the first time in their lives.

  4. Ann November 10, 2012 at 12:02 am #

    That is so depressing. 🙁 Girl Scouts at EVERY age should be making REAL s’mores with just varying levels of supervision to make sure they are safe around the fire.

  5. Rachel November 10, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Her father roasted the marshmallows this summer, but I think our daughter will be up for marshmallow roasting next summer. She’ll be two and a half.

  6. Amy Austin November 10, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    This Free-Range Girl Scout Leader has already made REAL S’Mores over a REAL campfire with my Kindergarten and First Grade Daisy troops – and no one died. Yes, they roasted their own.

    By third grade, my scouts will be able to start their own campfires.

    I don’t like to badmouth my sister Girl Scouts, but come ON.

  7. Brenda November 10, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    Isn’t learning wonderful feeling of charred, just a little too hot, marshmallow on the roof of your mouth part of growing up? As is losing a marshmallow or two to the fire?

  8. Jenni November 10, 2012 at 12:18 am #

    What a strange way to promote courage, confidence, empowerment, and all those other traits the Girl Scouts are supposed to be about!

    We supervised, but my 2-year-old son roasted his own marshmallows over a real campfire (and over the backyard gas grill a couple of times) this summer.

    Now that it’s cold out, he loves to “build a fire” (dump a pile of toys on the floor), grab a stick-like toy, and make imaginary s’mores indoors. Favorite quote: “Mommy, we almost forgot the chocolate!” And he can’t wait to get outside and go camping again soon.

  9. Emily November 10, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    I’m in the process of becoming a Girl Guide leader for the second time (I volunteered with two units in Australia), and ideally, I think I want to be as kid-focused as possible–as in, sit them down, ask them what they want to do (within reason), and make it happen….and real s’mores are definitely within reason. I was never involved in Guides as a child, but I remember being eight years old at day camp, and our counsellors attempted to teach us to start fires without matches, by rubbing sticks and stones together. As far as I remember, only one boy ever got the hang of it, but it was still fun trying. Anyway, this story makes me sad, because Scouts and Guides are supposed to be all about empowering kids, and you really can’t empower a child by constantly saying “don’t.”

  10. Emily November 10, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    P.S., I suppose we should be grateful that the kids aren’t just making pretend s’mores out of Plasticene, because of “health concerns” gone overboard.

  11. Dave November 10, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Take away the fire and all that us left is a so so treat. The fun is in the fire.

  12. Julia November 10, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    On a college camping trip about twenty of us (men and women) watched with great awe as the former Girl Scout took pride in preparation of the fire and her ability to get the flames going with ONE MATCH, and only ONE MATCH.
    Was enough to make us believe that if there were no matches, she would have still got that fire going with a couple of rocks.
    That’s not a skill you learn in between getting your driver’s license and high school diploma.
    Apparently a skill no longer considered necessary. I mean, we’re ALWAYS going to have access to mallow fluff right?… Right?

  13. Michelle November 10, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    My son is 3, and knows that fire is hot. He tells me everytime. “Mommy, fire is hot.” He knows not to get too close to one because….it’s hot. The ski resort we go to does s’mores week around Christmas with a real fire and everything. Last year, when he was 2, he was roasting his own marshmallows, and we’ll do it again this year.

  14. Erica November 10, 2012 at 2:37 am #

    I’m so excited to see another Free Range Girl Scout leader. I have a group of 7-year-olds, and I can happily report that every last one of them wielded a big pointy roasting stick and got close to the fire, whereupon the majority of them happily allowed their marshmallows to light on fire. THEN they ATE THEM. Because that is how magic memories are made! 🙂

  15. sarah November 10, 2012 at 3:26 am #

    As a Girl Scout mom and former leader, I do want to point out that *we don’t know the details of this event* — if it’s at a campsite that’s allowed to have fires, then I agree that’s ridiculous.

    But it’s very common for sing-alongs and get-togethers to be held at various troop meeting places, where fire of any kind (sometimes even including candles!) is strictly forbidden. it is so hard to find places that will host meeting space for troops now, I don’t know anyone who would break rules and risk losing their space.

  16. Ann In L.A. November 10, 2012 at 3:45 am #

    Sit upons….cardboard/paraffin camp stoves…aaaahhhh, memories!

  17. hineata November 10, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    What in the world is marshmellow fluff? The mind boggles – I thought marshmellows were supposed to be gelatinous lumps of, well, marshmellow. Not fluff….sounds like candyfloss or something.

    There’s nothing quite like burnt marshmellow between plain or choccy bikkies! We all make them over the gas stove in winter too….yummy.Also, in many years of doing this over lots of different fires, I’ve yet to see a kid burn anything other than their mouths…

  18. Captain America November 10, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    I’m an adult leader with the Boy Scouts. Man, I remember standing around a fire some time this past year, talking to a couple of older scouts, the subject of pyromaniacs came up and we all had to confess that one part of the appeal of the program was fire!

    There is a part of me that wants to generate a mathematical formula: take the number of lawsuits connected to one activity, then weigh the cost of the suit versus the happiness/utility value of the activity across the general population. Perhaps its OK if some joker gets hurt on a diving board, for instance, since so very much general benefit results from having diving boards at pools.

    Or cars. Sure there are deaths (quite a few, each year the equivalent dead of the Viet Nam War) but the benefits outweigh the cost.

    So here, Suzy burns one finger in Connecticut, thus shutting down the whole smores production, and its associated benefit, of the U.S. Girl Scouts?

  19. Jespren November 10, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Man I was making my own fire *without matches* by the time I was 6! Given it was a family camping trip and not a scouts things but I will never get why people insist their kids are so incapable. Whenever I hear a parent say their kid can’t do some completely normal, age appropriate behavior I have a barely resistable urge to snark out ‘oh, I’m so sorry, do you have a diagnosis or is it just a general developmental delay?’

  20. DJ November 10, 2012 at 4:11 am #

    Yes, there are times (fire bans) and places (school/church meeting room) where campfires are inappropriate and we Girl Scout Leaders make do the best we can.

    I keyed in on the part where it said parents didn’t need to worry — that makes me think the lack of a fire is the leader’s choice.

    Sadly, I have heard of many girl who have quit Girl Scouts because all they did was sell cookies and make crafts. There are other Girl Scout troops that go on High Adventure trips. It is all based on what the leaders can and will do with the girls.

    I have a troop of 3rd grade girls myself and we made the decision to focus on the outdoor progression this year. Yep, that means campfires and knots and knives and buddy burners and vagabond stoves and all that “old school” stuff.

    Sadly, though, this means that our girls will not be earning very many badges this years because the new program doesn’t have any of that stuff in it!

  21. pentamom November 10, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    Marshmallow fluff is a substance sold in jars, with the same flavor and ingredients as marshmallows, only a bit softer so it is (messily) spreadable with a knife. Peanut butter and fluff sandwiches are a common way of consuming it.

  22. DJ November 10, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    Just an FYI, Girl Scouts of the USA has not forbidden campfires or have anything to say about using marshmallow fluff. They do have Safety Checkpoints for activities to make sure leaders and girls are following proper protocols as well as requiring outdoor training to make sure that leaders know how to safely start, use, and put out a campfire.

  23. Lisa November 10, 2012 at 4:16 am #

    You know, I really don’t remember s’mores in Girl Scouts, and I was a very active one through 11th grade! I do remember whittling, though, and that’s pretty dangerous. As a Cub Scout leader, I’ve always allowed and encouraged kids to roast marshmallows. Maybe it helps that that on our cub/parent camping trips the parent is usually dad, who more likely to let a little boy roast marshmallows, run with sticks, roll down a hill, etc. Now that my group is Webelos, we’ve been camping with just our small group and the boys love roasting hot dogs over the fire. Some even toasted their breakfast bagels over the fire. Does my heart good to see this stuff.

  24. Sarah in WA November 10, 2012 at 4:22 am #

    “Don’t worry, parents . . .” Ugh. If they had said there was a current burn ban or something I would be less worried. But to get rid of the camp fire purely for the sake of not worrying parents is sad.

    Where does it end? “Don’t worry parents, we don’t allow scissors in classrooms anymore.”? “Don’t worry parents, we don’t allow recess anymore because of the risk of injury.”? 😛

  25. Yan Seiner November 10, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Wow…. We (my family, before the kids grew out of it) would do “campfire science” which usually consisted of getting a really, really hot fire, heating various objects until they were red hot, and then rolling / pushing / shoving them into pots of cold water. The resulting steam explosion was most rewarding. 🙂

    We found that some rocks would just boil water for a long time (meh), some would explode (OK) and some would really explode and stink of sulfur (really cool!).

    In between, the kids learned how to make a fire safely, how much it hurts when you burn a finger, and how to handle really hot stuff (with a long stick and lots of care).

    Oh, and we roasted, burned, charcoaled, and ate marshmallows while we were at it.

    It’s sad if kids are deprived of this. Oh well….. Maybe I can follow Lenore’s lead and do a campfire for kids for a “reasonable” fee. 😉 Just kidding.

  26. JaneW November 10, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    I was a Girl Scout from a family of serious scouts. I was SHOCKED, as an adult, to discover that there are people who don’t remotely know their way around fires. Forget learning to light damp wood with flint and tinder, I’m talking about folks who can’t feed an existing fire to keep it going. Or worse, folks who don’t know how to extinguish one properly. I firmly believe that being able to build a fire is a basic life skill.

    Certainly, in this case it could just be that they were holding the event at a site where fires were forbidden, such as a school gymnasium. Or, it could be weird safety obsession.

    I can tell you, however, that the latest Girl Scout safety materials still have guidelines on how to minimize the risk of fire-related mishap while still letting girls have their campfires.

  27. Jenny Islander November 10, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Hopefully this was just a case of not being able to find a meeting place that allowed open flame.

    My daughter, a Brownie, is already learning campfire safety, hypothermia prevention, etc., and I am glad of it. But I really want my school district to reinstate the requirement they phased out shortly after I had to do it: we used to have to pass a Coast Guard-supervised survival course in order to pass from junior high to high school.

  28. Bee in MD November 10, 2012 at 5:45 am #

    I was a girlscout in the early 90s and even as late as then we were taught campfire safety and I vividly remember roasting marshmellows on palm branches (hey I lived in Florida). Awesome times! I’m sad to see that things have changed so quickly.

  29. Uly November 10, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Hineata, I just yesterday made fudge using the recipe on the fluff jar. It’s pretty cheap – if you like, I can send you some. The shipping can’t be too much either, that stuff doesn’t weigh much. If you’re interested, I’ll pass you my email.

    (Also, fluffernutters are one of the great unhealthy joys of childhood. Especially when made with chocolate peanut butter instead of the regular kind.)

  30. This girl loves to talk November 10, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    yup …. theyre old enough.. we are lucky to live in a house with a fireplace (in warm part of australia) and my girls insist on only camping in places that allow open fires (many do not here) and all my girls can toast a marshmallow.. from about 2 and half years old onwards…. infact they often toast ones for me to ‘try’

  31. Jules November 10, 2012 at 7:58 am #

    My daughter is 4. Her preschool class visited a farm last month. While they were there, the farmers lit a campfire and each child (ages 3-5) was given a long, pointy stick with a marshmallow, and told to roast it, and bring it over to a table to sandwich it with the chocolate and marshmallows. Shockingly, all 28 children defied the odds and didn’t light themselves on fire or poke an eye out with the stick.

  32. Donna November 10, 2012 at 8:37 am #

    hineata – Marshmellow fluff is a wonderful concoction of whipped marshmellow in a jar. It goes great with peanut butter and white bread, but not for s’mores. It is generally only found in the northeast part of the US. Most of our food comes from California so no fluff or I’d offer to deliver some to Wellington next month.

  33. hineata November 10, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Ta everyone! Actually sounds quite interesting…. Would love to take you up on the offer of a jar, Uly, but not sure if it would get through customs (probably, but so strict sometimes it’s not worth the bother of trying 🙂 ).

    Thanks also Donna. On the totally off topic subject of food importation, do make sure you declare absolutely everything food and plant wise, won’t you – NZ is as strict on biosecurity as some places are on drugs, LOL!

  34. Snow November 10, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    We go camping often and by the time our son was 3 we were teaching him how to build campfires. Now, at age almost 11, he builds them and starts them by himself, and he cooks his own food over the fire and sometimes while we’re sitting around the campfire he’ll pick up a piece of wood and start carving little animals into it with his very own knife.

    That said, I have a family member who wouldn’t let her kids roast their own marshmallows over a campfire until they were 17 years old.

    As for fluff, my son absolutely loves fluffernutters.

  35. Warren November 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    I want to complain…………are the graham crackers gluten free? Is the chocolate dairy free, for the lactose intolerant? And is the fluff additive and perservitive free? We best just ban s’mores all together.

    Okay that out of my system. Parents again this is a chance to make a difference. Get ahold of all the other parents, and either get to no campfire thing changed, or talk your kids into boycotting the event, on the basis of extreme silliness.

  36. AW13 November 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    We have marshmallow fluff in the midwest, too. My husband (grew up in Florida) was giving me a hard time because I’d never had it, but he grew up putting it on peanut butter sandwiches. I bought some the other day when I was making ice cream and wanted to be able to add a swirl of marshmallow, but other than that, I’ve never used it. Certainly not for s’mores!

  37. Emily November 10, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Okay, I think it’s time someone posted this song:


  38. Bill Beeman November 10, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    DJ said: Sadly, I have heard of many girl who have quit Girl Scouts because all they did was sell cookies and make crafts.

    I’m reminded of a very bright young lady who became the Venturing President for our Boy Scout Council. Venturing is a co-ed program for young men and women between the ages of 14 and 21. Units pretty much decide what they want to focus on, and most are centered on advanced outdoor activity.

    When asked by a reporter why she had left Girl Scouts for Venturing, she replied “All we did in Girl Scouts was sit in a circle and get in touch with our feelings. I wanted to do things.”

    GSA’s loss, our gain.

  39. Warren November 10, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I think I have it figured out. The reason why it will be campfire free.
    Remember the plastic log, stump and leaves that you can buy to simulate the outdoors. We discussed it earlier this year.
    Well if they burned those for the campfire, just think of all the toxic smoke from the plastics. They are just trying to be enviromentally friendly.
    Makes perfect sense now.

  40. Donna November 10, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    @hineata – Thanks for the tip. Since Samoan food sucks, I won’t be bringing any. Have I mentioned my thrill in visiting New Zealand is at least partially due to the chance to see grocery stores and fresh vegetables for the first time in a year? I’m sure most come for Milford Sound, the glaciers and even a tour of Lord of the Rings sites. Me? I am coming to see fresh zucchini, asparagus and spinach. I may refuse to leave completely if strawberries are available.

  41. epu November 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    LOL @ “pass the fluff”

  42. Kaetlyn November 10, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

    This is just so backwards. Fire starting is an important SAFETY skill! But I suppose you’d have to be a free-range, outdoors-promoting parent, in the first place, to see that.

  43. Library Diva November 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Ugh. Way to sap all the fun out of it.

    The thing about Girl Scouts is that it’s only as good as the leader. I don’t know if this is as true of Boy Scouts, but I get the impression that the Girl Scouts have less of a strict program and have seen more changes over the years. For example, as a senior Girl Scout, you used to have the opportunity to specialize a bit, and could go into Mariner scouts (focused on boating, water safety, etc) or Wing scouts (your final project in that one was flying an airplane).

    Some leaders will get the girls doing types of extreme outdoor activities that would have the Survivor cast members shaking their heads. Some having them doing service projects that contribute a lot of value to the community. Others…they make lanyards and campfire-free smores.

  44. Taradlion November 10, 2012 at 7:35 pm #

    Here’s a thought, if fire is not allowed, don’t have fake fluff s’mores…have something else. Don’t use fluff and call it a “safe s’more”…

    I grew up toasting marshmallows on a fire and building fires. I am thankful for my parents’ backyard fire pit where my kids and nieces and nephews add wood (and pine cones) to the fire and toast marshmallows learning at young ages what fires safety is. Fire safety is knowing how to safely be around fire, not figuring out how to avoid it.

  45. Sam November 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    What a shame. The best part of a smore is the warm marshmallow and how it slightly melts the chocolate bar it sits upon. I hope the parents complain…..

  46. Jenna November 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

    Don’t they teach fire safety in girl scouts? They do in cub scouts and boy scouts. You’d think that because it’s taught, the kids would know how to act around a campfire and this would be a non-issue. This is just so weird. Even our 4-year-old daughter knows how to roast marshmallows over a fire from taking our kids camping all the time.

  47. Lollipoplover November 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    S’mores require fire! That’s the best part.

    Maybe I’m raising a gang of pyros, but my kids absolutely love indoor and outdoor fires. They aren’t in scouts, but all know the basic rules of fires and we’ve enjoyed them most weekends this fall. Everyone around here has outdoor firepits. Kids can build them, maintain by searching for wood, and contain them.
    Isn’t building a fire still a basic survival skill? Maybe now it’s replaced by finding an outlet.

    One of my favorite things to do is to cook over fire. Campfire popcorn is awesome (they sell the pots on Amazon, campfire pies (Nutella banana is a favorite), and of course, S’mores. We love Carmello candy bars (by Hershey) with graham crackers and the perfectly ROASTED marshmallow. It’s heaven.

    As for marshmallow fluff, it IS good in fudge. But no one should EVER use it as a replacement in a s’more. That’s like putting scrapple in to replace bacon in a BLT.

  48. ifsogirl November 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    I have another recipie for Marshmallow Fluff. There are two versions, one kid friendly and one for grown ups.

    1 Jar Fluff
    1 pudding cup, butterscotch works well
    2 or more oz Khalua, not too much or it will be thin

    mix together and use as a fruit dip.

    I figured we all would know which was the kid friendly so I didn’t add a warning or disclaimer.

  49. linvo November 11, 2012 at 12:16 am #

    My 7yo is possibly already better at making a campfire than I am (not that hard, I never learnt as a kid and still suck at it). She was also burning her own marshmallows at 3 and made her first campfire at 6.

    “Don’t worry parents, the campfire experience will teach your kids how to be safe around fire” would’ve been an appropriate comment.

  50. catspaw73 November 11, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    @Donna, strawberries are just coming into season, they will be at about the height of season when you are over here 🙂 Can recommend finding out when the farmers markets are in the places you are going, good cheap produce, and a lot of places have them.

    Oh and avoid offers of marmite/vegemite Americans pretty much hate the stuff, and the reaction Americans have when they eat it is hilarious 😀 Or as an Alaskan friend put it, butter hot toast, open jar, throw toast out as its now inedible 🙂

    But honestly, toasting marshmallows is not dangerous, and fire safety is not hard to explain.

  51. hineata November 11, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Was going to say the same thing, Catspaw! BTW, how did you get time on the computer to do this, thought the sprogs would be at it this afternoon, the weather being so crap! Is soccer cancelled?

    Will set up a caravan in the driveway for the year, Donna – you’re never going to want to leave! High season for lots of fresh fruit when you’re here. Though I am surprised you haven’t got good food in A. Samoa, thought it would be full of things like pineapples, mangoes and coconuts etc. What’s the fishing like, too? Taro is probably an acquired taste – I know it was for me….

    And Catspaw, we are supposed to be preserving our supply of Marmite – best not to mention it at all, LOL!

  52. hineata November 11, 2012 at 1:15 am #

    @ Donna, let us know some time when you are likely to be in Wellington. Kids pointed out we are off up to Ohope (in the Bay of Plenty) on the 27/12. Otherwise free for most of the rest of December, minus the odd day of work. If you’re game for camping, you can always join us there too, LOL, three large carloads of Asians (various types!), and assorted hanger-ons :-).

    My email (gosh, how unsafe to pass it on, LOL!) is [email protected] if you want to pass on itineraries etc off-site. Cheers.

  53. Gina November 11, 2012 at 3:56 am #


    My contribution to the convo.

  54. Warren November 11, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    Did someone mention Khalua? Start the fire, roast the marshmellows and dip them in the Khalua or Bailey’s.

    Now that is a very productive use of a campfire.

  55. Jen November 11, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Taradlion said: “Here’s a thought, if fire is not allowed, don’t have fake fluff s’mores…have something else. Don’t use fluff and call it a “safe s’more”…”

    Gotta agree completely. I understand that Scouts don’t always meet in locations that allow fires. If you’re meeting at a school, or a community center, or most churches, a fire is out of the question. At that point, though, have trail mix. Or popcorn. Or cookies and cocoa. Or any number of other snacks that don’t require fire. But don’t f**k with my s’mores by claiming untoasted fluff is just as good. 🙂

    Our troops were lucky and met at the church my family attended (mom was the leader), and there was a BBQ pit the church would always let us use for fire building, so s’mores, hot dogs, “snakes on a stick”, mountain pies, etc were always an option. If you could cook it over a fire, we made it at some point, and the girls started doing their own cooking as young as kindergarten for marshmallows. Nobody ever got a serious burn, or had flaming marshmallow flung at them, because we taught fire safety. Heck, my 3 year old daughter can safely roast a marshmallow and a hot dog without injury.

  56. Donna November 11, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    @ Catspaw and hineata – We have both Marmite and Vegemite readily available here. I have enough British and Australian friends back in the states to know not to go near that stuff.

    Tropical fruit is available in Am. Samoa when in season. The pineapples are to die for. Samoans are not vegetable eaters, so local veggies are very limited. A few off-island fruits and veggies are air freighted in but are often of dubious quality and/or really expensive (strawberries are regularly available here; they simply cost $9 a pint so I have to be really desperate) and availability is very hit or miss.

    Heck, all food is hit or miss. Anyone who is here for any extended period of time gets overwhelmed with the choices in modern grocery stores. We simply don’t know what to do when faced with choosing between different kinds of salad dressing any more. But since we haven’t had any lettuce on island for a few weeks, I guess our lack of salad dressing choice is irrelevant.

  57. Reader November 11, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Reminds me of the time when I was starting to toddle (late walker admittedly) and my parents informed me not to touch the stove, it was hot.

    Cue me soberly informing every visitor as they came in the door: “Don’t touch the stove. It’s hot.”

  58. rhodykat November 11, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    We just purchased a new wood stove. My children (7 and 9) took turns lighting the fire this week so that they know how to safely do it in the event they ever need to. I also let them roast marshmallows over the fire (it’s an insert, so you can just leave the door open). My house is still standing, and I have one less chore to do when I come home. The kids fight over who gets to start the fire. Likewise, we have a fire pit in the summer – and marshmallows constantly. The only time I help them roast is when they want to see what a perfectly roasted gooey all the way through marshmallow looks like 😛

  59. Susan November 11, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    As a troop leader for 2 Girl Scout this request for fake s’mores is GS standards. I taught my 4th grade girls how to start a fire and what is required to be safe while taking care of it. They are now in 6th grade and take full responsibility for the fire and cooking while at a campout. As for my younger troop they will be working on that badge this year.

  60. Emily November 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    @Susan–So, the girls make fake s’mores until they earn their fire safety badges? I agree with Warren (I think) who said that, if you can’t have a fire, for whatever reason, give the kids a different snack that doesn’t require a fire. Then, once they all have their fire safety badges, go to an area that allows fires, and have a proper campfire with real s’mores to celebrate.

  61. Emily November 11, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    P.S., How come nobody’s thought of making s’mores in the microwave?

  62. Earth.W November 12, 2012 at 1:45 am #

    I hope they’re not lighting up during “Stop Fire Ember Cruelty Week”.

  63. CWH November 12, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    This is a timely subject because my daughter just had a Girl Scouts sleepover this weekend. They were planning on having a campfire and making s’mores, but it seems that the Girl Scouts require an adult to be there with a particular safety certification if they want to have a fire, and the person they had expected to be there couldn’t make it. So it was a night of camping without a campfire.

    At least they were able to make s’mores in the microwave, though.

  64. Jenne November 12, 2012 at 2:06 am #

    Emily– microwave smores are absolutely the most dangerous, even a second too long and they explode AND they are completely runny napalm. We’ve done it. Never again.

    You never know for sure whether it’s the *other* kids or *their* kids the parents are supposed to be worried about; with a large group, there’s bound to be some parents who KNOW their girls are ‘set it on fire and then wave it wildly to put it out’ aficionados.

  65. Margo N November 12, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Please…. here are some of the very cool things I did in Girl Scouts and at Girl Scout Camp. Cooked all of my meals, for two weeks, over an open fire; learned to rock climb; canoed down a portion of the Colorado River; backpacked up a mountain and back down again; went on a survival weekend with no packed food; cooked drop donuts, in boiling oil, over a coffee can stove; spent a week at the beach, swimming in the big waves; water skied; sledded; camped in the snow; lashed bamboo poles together to make a camp sink and countertop; learned to whittle with a pocketknife in second grade; ate some rattlesnake in fourth grade (THAT was an unexpected one!); washed my own dishes; planned and prepared meals for the whole group; ran a Christmas party for kids in our city; edited a troop newspaper in 5th grade; sewed stuff, roasted a whole turkey in a pit that we dug in the ground; had a clam roast at the beach; sang a ton of songs, created a bunch of crafts, gave away a bunch of beaded friendship bracelets, and received a bunch too; sewed stuff, made messes and cleaned them up. Used an axe to chop kindling. Learned how to build and light, and put out a fire. Slept in tents and under stars. Got in trouble for playing mumbletypegs (knife throwing at a target on the ground). And, whenever possible, toasted lots of marshmallows, sandwiched them with Hershey bars and graham crackers and ate until I was stuffed.

    And THAT is what made Scouts fun! (And was a big part of making ME fun too!)

  66. Suzanne November 12, 2012 at 2:27 am #

    I didn’t remember the girls not being allowed to cook so I had to look it up. This is a story of an overprotective leader not the girl scouts in general. These are the outdoor cooking rules for the girls http://www.girlscoutsnorthernindiana-michiana.org/sites/default/files/volunteer/Safety%20Checkpoints%204%202010/Outdoor_Cooking_Safety_Activity_Checkpoints_2011_Track_Changes.pdf
    It doesn’t say anywhere that they aren’t allowed to cook over a fire or encourage the use of marshmallow fluff over roasted marshmallows. I do think the leader is supposed to complete the “outdoor activity training” before allowing the girls to cook over a fire but the official gsusa guide says “council approved trainings” which could be losely interpreted to mean just about any training they offer.

    A Girl Scout troop is only as good as it’s leader and unfortunately, the over-protective moms who want to be involved in EVERYTHING are more likely to be leaders than rational free-rangers. I’m a leader, I love encouraging my girls to do new “scary” things and when the moms freak a little I just say “well if you’re not comfortable with it that’s ok but my daughter is going to do it and in anyone who doesn’t won’t get the badge.”

  67. Caitlin C. November 12, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    What I want to know is this: Why is it fine and dandy for the Boy Scouts to make fires, cook their own food, and learn about knife and gun safety, but Girl Scouts can’t so much as roast a darn marshmallow?

  68. Bob Mueller November 12, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    I SORT of understand using the fluff in that it might be cheaper in the long run. My family (7 kids) has switched to using chocolate frosting for a cost-cutting measure. But my kids have been known to roast marshmallows over a candle just because they wanted roasted marshmallows.

    And yes, safe fire techniques should be a life skill. For everyone.

  69. Brian Oelberg November 12, 2012 at 3:31 am #

    saw a mini S’more cooker at Macy’s tonight.
    Every year there has to be some stupid one item cooking thing to put in the closet after christmas, this one was really one of the worst

  70. Gina D November 12, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    To Margo N…. I am so jealous of your scouting experience! I was in the scouts but it was never like that. And it makes me sad that my daughter will never even have my experiences in the scouts, let alone anything close to yours.

  71. Allison November 12, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    This is so sad. I just gave my 3 yr old and 5 yr old boys marshmallows and coat hangers near an open BONFIRE at a family party the other night and let them roast their own. They’ve done it before! After explaining the rules of fire safety, of course. (You know, don’t stick your hand in the fire or push your brother in. That’s all you need to know, right?!) And there were five other kids all between 5-8 there as well and I was so surprised when two of the older kids had never roasted marshmallows. What’s the world coming to?! S’mores are supposed to be FUN!

  72. Lea November 12, 2012 at 5:30 am #

    I agree they should find another snack if they can’t do fire for smores. They shouldn’t be advertising it as if fire would somehow be dangerous. That type of activity and wording would turn my stomach. Sadly lots of parents, parents of girl scouts, would find the idea of using fire to roast a marshmellow very unsafe before say highschool age.

    As a girl scout leader that is trying very hard to be freerange and still make my parents happy and follow all of the girl scouts, often ridiculous rules I can understand why they might not have been able to have a fire. The location they were using might not have allowed it. They may also have been upp against parents that would have raised a stink calling it dangerous. They may also have not had anyone/enough people with girl scout trainging for fires.

    As has been pointed out their is training that leaders need before building fires. That traiing is not simple, basic or cheap.The leaders have to shoulder the costs of it. It’s two full days of all sorts of training that happens to include some fire safety. Their isn’t an option for just fire safety training. You must fully complete all aspects of the training as well, no exeptions, even if you are disabled as I am.

    To do the training, which I really want to do, I would have to hire a sitter for a full weekend, pay for the training course myself, and somehow not be to disabled to do some of the physically demanding things involed (none of which have anything to do with the fire safety part either). I’m willing to sacrafic a wekend, get a sitter and even pay for the training out of my own pocket but I can’t suddenly become not disabled. The Girl scouts apparently have no policy for exemptions or how to train someone with a disability.It’s like beating my head on a wall but I keep trying, since my girls want to do the activites and have fun. Most leaders look at the obsticles of just the paperowork, time and money and decide they aren’t going to be able to do it. They decide that being able to sit at a firepit, isn’t that important and plan another craft.

    girl scouts 9and society in general) has changed a lot since I was a girl scout, many moons ago. Training used to be common sense. Activites, like a campfire, didn’t need super heros to oversee them, twelve forms, in triplicate, submited for approval six weeks in advance and parents didn’t used to freak out at nature walks and fires to roast marshmellows. Leaders didn’t used to think twice about upsetting parents with a “scary” fire to make smores.

  73. Emily November 12, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    Wow, I hope that Girl Guides in Canada is less bureaucratic than Scouts–I don’t have a ton of money, or a car, but I don’t want that to stand in the way of giving the girls the full Guide experience.

  74. Marc Armitage November 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    I recently requested photos of people using fire in settings with children and posted them in an album on my Facebook page (got thirty-odd).

    While doing this one of my friends got in touch and pointed out that he recently tried to make use of a Scout camp for a training event and was told, yes you can book our place but sorry no fires on health and safety grounds. He went somewhere else.

  75. Emily November 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Another story: When I was involved with running a “homemade” music camp over the summer with a friend of mine who’s a pianist, we did “matchbox percussion” with the kids–matchboxes taped shut, and the kids shook them back and forth like maracas. Nobody opened the matchboxes, so it was all perfectly safe. However, it said on the boxes, “Keep matches away from children.” Myself and another one of the leaders/counsellors/pseudo-adults thought that this was hilarious, zoomed in on the warning and photographed it, and then had one of the younger campers hold up her matchbox for a photo-op of us blatantly defying the “safety warning.”

  76. Kelly November 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Lol. I imagine that next summer (when it’s warm again) I’ll let my son do marshmallows. He already understands hot. I don’t think a toddler would be stupid enough to put their hands in the fire, it’s quite obvious that it’s a bad plan to them. He’d just be happy with the marshmallow. (He’ll be a bit over 2 next summer.)

    I think I’d be more worried about older kids doing the activities because they tend to goof off more. 3rd graders still tend to be fairly respectful to adults.

  77. Mike in Virginia November 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    Oh crap. I just realized that I have a charcoal grill and my kids, 3 and 5, are usually outside with me when I light it. I then leave them outside to play while I go inside and prepare the meat and let the coals get hot. They are fascinated by the fire, but they keep their distance because its hot. But I guess I am putting them in serious danger and should just resort to eating microwaved food (though, I guess cold food is even safer).

  78. Echowit November 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    @Taradlion — “Fire safety is knowing how to safely be around fire, not figuring out how to avoid it.”

    Great way to express it. You sound like a ‘glass-half-full’ kinda person.

    One could substitute almost any “danger” for fire and have a useful, sensible statement. (In fact I probably will, this has gone into my “stuff” file.)

  79. Warren November 12, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    My buddy and I were talking about our kids, and how things are different, these days.

    Kids are being taught to fear today, such as fire, open water, frozen ponds, weather, animals, traffic and on. We were not taught to fear them. We were taught about them, and how to deal with them, and to have a respect for what they can do. When I mean what they can do…….respect that fire can burn you, but don’t fear it.

  80. Emily November 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    @Marc Armitage–I thought that, at a Scout (or Guide) camp, outdoor fires were pretty much a given.

  81. Nerd-faced Girl November 15, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    My only trouble with S’mores was that by the time my marshmallow was slow-roasted to glorious golden-brown perfection, all the other girls had lit theirs on fire and eaten all the chocolate. It was worth it, though, to enjoy that perfectly roasted marshmallow.

  82. Luther Kaschmitter May 25, 2013 at 2:39 pm #



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